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Indepth Arts News:

"Just Words: Xu Bing, Hong Hao, and Xie Xiaoze"
2007-05-19 until 2007-06-30
Morono Kiang Gallery
Los Angeles, , USA United States of America

Morono Kiang Gallery is pleased to announce its inaugural exhibition, Just Words, with artists Xu Bing, Hong Hao, and Xie Xiaoze from May 19 to June 30, 2007. Curated by Pilar Perez, Just Words brings together three prominent contemporary Chinese artists whose work explores language, texts, and books. While books and texts have always played an integral part in defining who has access to knowledge and education, more recently–and especially in a controlled society like China–artists and intellectuals have reacted against those who have the power to manipulate the information and control access. As professor Wu Hung recently noted, for many artists, a "love-hate" relationship with books and official language has developed.

In this show, MacArthur grant recipient and New York-based artist Xu Bing works with the letters of an English word, slightly altering and arranging them so that the word seems to take on the form of a Chinese character, yet remains legible to the English reader. As people attempt to recognize and write these words, some of their ingrained thinking is challenged. These examples of "square word calligraphy" can be read as English, yet are not the result of translation-as-transliteration, but rather of a singular method of translation-as-transference. Xu Bing has used this style of calligraphy to copy two poems. The first is Sylvia Plath's Two Sisters of Persephone. The second is To the tune of Shengsheng man, a lyric by the Song dynasty Chinese poet, Yi'an (Li Qingzhao).

In addition to the square-word calligraphy images, a large printed scroll and a small codex book, both titled The Tides Story (2006), will also be on display. They are tri-lingual collaborations composed of original pen-and-ink calligraphy and illustration by Xu Bing, former McKnight Fellow, Marshall Weber, and Colombian artist Eliana Perez. Weber wrote the original text in English; the text was then translated into Spanish by Perez and finally translated into Mandarin by Xu Bing. The scroll's innovative calligraphy both forms and flows wavelike through a seascape horizon, transforming the conventional acts of reading and translation into a physical and cognitive dance. The book and and scroll were created as a project of the Booklyn Artists Alliance.

Hong Hao's "Selected Scriptures," a series of trompe I'oeil silk-screens, creates the appearance of facing pages in an open book, with the edges of the pages on each side seeming to bracket the open pages. The prints were created from 1992 to 2000. The work is perceptive and satirical, dealing with illusion, appearance, and preconception. „Selected Scriptures‰ contain a series of maps–New World Political (2000), shows the world rearranged geographically with China in place of the United States, and the northern European countries placed on the African continent. In other maps Hong redistributes geographical land mass according to military and economic borders, or replaces the names of capital cities with popular expressions or words. Beijing-based Hong Hao, not only challenges our known physical world, but our use of language and our belief in books.

Xie Xiaoze will be exhibiting paintings from his "Library Series." Begun in 1993, when he was intrigued by rows of "sleeping" books on the shelves of a library, the artist became fascinated by what people do to books – banning them, destroying them, glorifying them with gold-leaf, or worshipping them as the ultimate truth. The "Library Series" includes a range of images, from books whose spines give no hint of content to the largely neglected volumes by Lenin in a Chinese library. Order (The Red Guards), a 1999 installation that will also be on view, grew out of the artist's deep fascination with books and an interest in history. It is based on historical documentation of books that were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, yet aims to go beyond that narrative. Xie Xiaoze recently stated, "I think that the development of each individual is greatly influenced by the larger social and cultural background, and one's experience involving books, to some degree, shape one's view of art and life almost unconsciously . . . to me, the disintegrating pages and the fragility of books seems to suggest the vulnerability of memory and history."

The Morono Kiang Gallery is approximately 3,000 square feet of exhibition space within the ground level of the historic Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles. The gallery plans to invite international curators to organize six exhibitions a year. In promoting contemporary art, while focusing on Chinese art from the last decade, the gallery will host retrospective shows of recognized artists' works, in addition to emerging artists.

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